According to senior Steelers Writer for The Athletic, Mark Kaboly, JuJu Smith-Schuster left Thursday’s practice early with a groin injury. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but his availability for this Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints is up in the air.
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had to leave practice (limited) early with a groin injury on Thursday. @TheAthleticPGH— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) December 20, 2018
Smith-Schuster was listed as a limited participant in practice Thursday, and his practice participation on Friday will be a very clear indication of whether he will be able to play Sunday.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (groin) added to the Steelers injury report as limited today. James Conner DNP, Terrell Edmunds (concussion) was a full participant, as was Bud Dupree (knee) #Steelers #dkps— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) December 20, 2018
If Smith-Schuster cannot play, rookie second-round pick James Washington would likely take his spot as the starting outside wide receiver opposite Antonio Brown. The loss would be a blow to the Steelers as the team is ranked third in the NFL in passing yards, and first in pass plays. Smith-Schuster’s 95 receptions and 1,274 yards leads the Steelers offense and is sixth in the NFL in both categories.
Washington is coming off his best performance of the year with three catches for 65 yards. Washington has had continuity issues with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for much of the year, catching 13 passes for 153 yards on 33 targets. The duo will need to be in sync Sunday as the team will likely be without running back James Conner while facing the league’s best run defense.
The Steelers sit a half game up on Baltimore and a half game up on the wild card spot in the playoffs so the importance of the injury is magnified.
Check in regularly with BTSC as this is a developing story with updates to come when they are available.